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How Can We Fix the Digital & Tech Skills Shortage?

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From a technological standpoint, the global job market faces a rather curious predicament.

How Can We Fix the Digital & Tech Skills Shortage?

Over the last ten or twenty years, as technological advances in key intelligence areas like AI, the IoT and automation have really started to come to the fore, the question of job security in many industries has become a rather poignant one.

When will the robots take our jobs? That’s the essential concern, isn’t it, for many mechanized industries at least.

The interesting thing, though, is while developments in the rapidly expanding technology sector threaten virtually every other workplace infrastructure, the tech and digital industries themselves are severely short on manpower.

That’s right – there aren’t enough people to make the robots take our jobs. Of course, that’s perhaps a teensy bit of a sensationalist take, but the skills shortage in the tech industry right now is a genuinely pressing issue.

So, how do we fix it?

A Global Problem

There are two problems currently facing the global tech sector. The first is a skills shortage, the second is a skills gap.

One and the same, right? Actually, two rather distinct problems.

The first alludes to a simple lack of suitable bodies in the swelling tech market. Take the UK, for example, where more than four in 100 jobs currently available demand some level of computer science expertise – meanwhile, the British education system has seen a 40% drop in young people taking IT-based subjects at GCSE level since 2015.

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Naturally, those two statistics don’t compliment each other well, and a market that’s worth £400m daily to the UK economy is missing a significant number of people. This is far from an exclusively domestic problem, however, as the global tech market faces similar issues.

As for the skill gap, tech companies are finding fresh tech graduates’ academic knowledge is being canceled out by their lack of practical skills and experience, while veterans in the sector are too reliant on their extensive but slightly dated practical knowledge and reluctant to stay up to speed with the latest developments in a rapidly changing sector.

This predicament, where skill levels don’t quite stack up to the current requirements of the industry, is the skills gap and is just as big a thorn in the side for the digital industry’s rather exponential development plans.

Children Are Our Future

So, we know the problems, now to fix them. Clearly, the tech sector’s best hope lies in creating a better pipeline into the industry, beginning in early education.

With the tech sector offering rapid growth and potentially lucrative career paths, one would think enticing a tech-savvy generation of kids in that direction wouldn’t be too tough.

However, with the earlier GCSE fall-off statistic in mind, it’s clear that more needs to be done in order to create that funnel of talent that’s required.

Teaching digital skills to children is already a modern-day essential, perhaps what we need to focus on is the type of digital education being provided and the amount of exposure to it.

One area of promise is the world of basic programming, where versatile microprocessors like Arduino and the ever-popular Raspberry Pi microcomputer have been making huge headway in introducing budding IT boffins of all ages (but particularly at the younger end) to a number of the core language and project skills.

On a wider level, there are a few problems the tech industry faces surrounding its contemporary appeal. From a general standpoint, many job roles in the sector aren’t clearly defined, and there’s a lack of understanding around potential career paths, as good as they may be behind the scenes.

Additionally, a lack of relatable role models and a gender barrier in making tech appeal particularly to young women is another hurdle the industry must overcome. That burden of responsibility, fairly or unfairly, will likely lie in classrooms over the coming years.

Conclusion

The bottom line is that the tech sector provides one of the most futureproofed career routes for individuals today and, as society leans more heavily on its findings, it’s critical that we find those talented robot builders sooner rather than later.

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